Friday 8 May 2020


Named after the first two saints canonised after the Kievan Rus adopted Christianity as the state religion Boris and Gleb, Roman and David—sons of Vladimir the Great, the Russian exclave of Borisoglebsky (Борисоглебский) on the Norwegian bank of the of the Pasvik river, beyond the Arctic circle came to our attention through a travelogue from February covering the annual friendship festival filed to the Calvert Journal.
As a celebration in microcosm of the experiment and showcase of open borders (previously) during the Cold War, the Barents Spektakel marks a détente of nearly two months in 1965 of cultural exchange—plus some freer-flowing vodka not subject to Norway’s alcohol monopoly, with the settlement isolated (see also) due to an oversight in negotiating the borders after a peace settlement between Finland and the Russian Empire having become a platform to highlight Soviet technological and industrial prowess. In later years the site of a few tense standoffs, since 2014, border controls are stricter than before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the festival was not held in the off-limits community of Boris Gleb and only observed in the neighbouring Norwegian town Kirkenes. Hopefully one day tensions will dissipate and the communities can once again celebrate together. Learn more about the history of the border at the link up top.